Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Game Review – FIFA 12

Formats: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP, 3DS,

For many gamers out there, FIFA has now become a tradition. Come September the buzz starts as avid fans of football get ready to call time on the prior installment and pick up their copies of the new and refined entry in the series. As per, FIFA 12 takes the football simulator to new heights as it improves on the predecessor in almost every manner. Fantastic in-game enhancements including the player impact engine, new tactical defending system and advanced AI alongside sensational new game content like the EA Sports Football club, all help retain FIFA’s title as the best and most realistic football experience available.

Let’s get right down to the serious stuff – yes FIFA 12’s defending system has changed and this may come as a shock to you. A new tackling button has been implemented that has replaced the teammate press from FIFA 11. This as a result has forced the teammate press up to the Right Bumper / R1 so for those of you who don’t hold the pad with a finger on both the trigger and bumper buttons, it will certainly be difficult to adjust to these new controls. However, taking time to allow this to become natural is worth the wait – the new tactical defending system allows for a more realistic attempt at winning the ball without going to ground. It also allows players to pull each other’s shirts if your opponent manages to get away from you. Long gone are the days of simply pressing and forcing your AI team mate to win the ball, now precision and time are required to ensure the you strip the opposition of possession.

FIFA 12 continues to impress with its refinements to the dribbling system. Players are now aware as to where they are on the pitch, for example if someone dribbles the ball near the touchline, the player will automatically take greater care to ensure the ball stays in play, keeping the ball tighter and protecting it. This system is also implemented all over the field by allowing much smaller and quicker touches for even greater control of the ball during play. The fantastic new player impact engine also ensures that when players tussle for the ball you get a real sense of physical contact as they fight for possession. The new dribbling system and physical engine go hand-in-hand to create the most life-like representation of football yet.

There’s always something to do or something new to try out in FIFA 12’s game modes. Of course your standard career mode is present, allowing the options of competing as a player, player-manager or manager. Online however, is where you will find all of FIFA 12’s gems. New additions include the Head to Head season, which is an online system made up of numerous leagues. You play up to 10 games and then should you accumulate enough points, proceed to the next league and rise in the rankings. Alongside this are cups and tournaments to take part in and it really gives you a competitive sense online, as the leagues get tougher and the fight for promotion more fierce.

Another new addition is Online Friendlies, which is really an enhancement of the unranked matches from FIFA 11. This new system tracks your results against all of your friends in a best of 10 system. Once you have played 10 games against that particular opponent, points are calculated, trophies are given out and the boasting begins. This fun new way of playing against friends ensures there’s always at least a hint of competitiveness throughout each game. Of course you can still play against random players online and this has been amended to make for a much fairer experience. Before the game would match you then players would choose teams – resulting almost every single time with both players choosing 5 star teams like Chelsea, Manchester City Barcelona and Real Madrid. Now however, players select their team first and the game matches you with players who have also chosen teams of a similar skill level. Alongside this, the player search takes into account your disconnections, skill level, location and so forth to ensure a smooth and fair online match.

What is superb about FIFA 12 is the brilliant EA Sports Football Club, which keeps track of your accolades as you participate in any of the game modes, be it offline or online. Essentially the Sports Football Club records your experience points, but if you choose to become involved further, you then realize that once you have chosen the club you support, your points go towards boosting that particular team up the rankings board. Supporters around the world work together to try and get their team to the top of the rankings (a similar system was implement in the prior FIFA World Cup game). This mode works on averages so you can go any team and still have a shot and rocketing them up the leaderboards. The points system also resets to allow for fresh competition and basically to ensure Barcelona aren’t always on top!

EA Sports Football Club is also planning to take a page out of UFC Undisputed’s game modes. The MMA brawler had a mode that allowed players to participate in real world events and try to change the outcome of fights that occurred in real life. FIFA are looking to incorporate a similar system in the foreseeable future, allowing players to relive their favourite moments or partake in their worst nightmares over and over again (Milan vs. Liverpool Champions League Final anyone?). Finally, FIFA Ultimate Team, the trading card mode available in FIFA 11 has now become completely free for you to pass your time off the pitch in a slightly different, yet engaging way.

FIFA 12 really has something for absolutely everyone. It is the finest football simulator and quite frankly, how they keep making it feel fresh and more life-like is beyond me. A plethora of content alongside some incredible game enhancements makes this the number one football experience. Get yourself a copy, love football and love life for another year!

9.5 | Gameplay |
Terrific new player impact and precision dribbling engines. The most accurate representation of football in a video game yet and a host of fantastic content to sink your teeth into – be it on or offline.

9.0 | Presentation |
FIFA 12 looks beautiful but some players who you would expect to look exactly like their real life counter parts, look totally off – take David De Gea as an example if you don’t believe me.

10.0 | Replay Value |
Between FIFA 09 and FIFA 11 my clocked game time must be close to 300 hours – it is the ultimate social game, be it with friends, online, offline, whatever the case – it’s impossible to put it down!

9.5 | Final Thoughts |
EA have done it again. FIFA 12 is sensational and considering it would have been possible to make a few minor tweaks and call it a day, praise is deserved due to the volume of new additions present. Changes to in-game content and additional game modes really emphasize the hard work that went into this new installment and all that effort transitions into the best sports sim available.

Igor Kharin.
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